Making Thanksgiving Fun For Kids!

Making Thanksgiving Fun For Kids!

Keep The Kids Busy

Thanksgiving is just days away! I’m Edna Sanders here in Shady Pines Story Town. Harold and I are excitedA happy family hugging their pets that members of our family we didn’t see last year will be visiting this week  While we’re excited about that, it’s always a challenge to keep our kids 4-legged Boomerang and Halley’s Comet, busy during these holiday get togethers. I bet you face the same challenge with your two-legged children.

To help all of us I found some creative Thanksgiving ideas that will help all of us. These are for kids of all ages—from meal planning to table setting and more.

1. Plan the Meal

Here are some fun ideas to consider:

  • Start off by giving your kids fall-themed colors and having them list all of the fruits or veggies that fit. Then use these lists to help inspire your Thanksgiving menu and to look for recipes as a family. 
  • Have each of your children choose one dish to be “theirs.” When Thanksgiving Day comes, give them more responsibility for this dish, whether it’s preparing the ingredients, mixing it all together or dishing it out. You could even ask your kids to show off their special dish by presenting it to the family and explaining how it was made.
  • Instead of grocery shopping alone, why not take a little road trip to pick out the ingredients as a family? You can talk about all the traditional Thanksgiving foods on the way and let your kids pick out their own sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin or other produce.

Picky eater tip: As you’re planning the meal, take this opportunity to talk about the vegetables you’ll be eating on Thanksgiving, including the ones that your kids don’t like. Setting expectations early, without making a big deal out of it, can prevent mealtime surprises and help your kids build a healthier Thanksgiving plate.

2. Make the Decorations

No need to buy expensive decorations to get those warm Thanksgiving vibes! Homemade crafts are a fun way to teach your kids how to recycle and fill your home with adorable fall-themed decor. 

Spice up your Thanksgiving kids table with these cute yet simple holiday crafts:

  • Leaf centerpieces: Send your kids outside to gather sticks and branches and then have them color large leaf shapes out of paper. Paint the branches, glue the leaves on and then arrange your little trees in vases.
  • Table runners: Buy a roll of craft paper, spread it down the center of your table and set out crayons or pencils. When your kids start getting antsy in the middle of the meal, they’ll have a ready-made activity to keep them busy.
  • Toilet paper roll turkeys: With some paint, googly eyes and construction paper feathers, you can turn everyday recyclables into cute turkeys to set up around the house. You could even hide them around the yard and have a post-meal game to find all the turkeys!
  • Thankful placemats: On a piece of construction paper, write, “I am thankful for _________.” Let your little one jazz it up with crayons, ribbons or glitter and then use it as their Thanksgiving placemat. Isn’t that a good idea?
  • Before you start eating, work on filling in the blank together. You may learn something about your child you didn’t know before!

3. Prepare the Meal

You’ve already worked together to plan the meal, so keep your kids involved by giving them age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen! Younger kids can fetch ingredients or wash them, and older kids can help with cutting, mixing and cooking. The more involved your kids are, the more excited they’ll be about contributing to the Thanksgiving feast.

To make your Thanksgiving kids table even more fun, take all those traditional foods and incorporate an extra touch of holiday creativity:

If you don’t have any meal prep tasks to share, your kids can work on last-minute decorations or go ahead and set the table.

4. Set the Table

Once the food’s cooking, it’s time to get the table ready:

  • Gather up the decorations your kids made and spread them across your tables, snack stations and self-serve areas.
  • Put some extra fun on the table with Thanksgiving-themed silverware, table cloths or these precious folded napkin turkeys.
  • For the finishing touch, have your kids cut out turkey feathers and feet from construction paper. Then arrange them at each place setting so that the plate will create an adorable turkey shape.

These are just some of the ideas I found. I’m sure you can think of a whole lot more for your family.

Whatever you do, I just hope that you spend some time giving thanks for the blessings we all enjoy. Thanksgiving is a great time to do that. Even if it’s been a hard year, gratitude is an importnat lesson for children – of all ages!

Now, what are we waiting for? Let’s go ahead and dig in! 


May Day Magic from Shady Pines

May Day Magic from Shady Pines

Believe it or not, we’ve made it to the first of May. You know what that means? It’s May Day! During this fretful time of Coronavirus, many of us won’t be able to gather for some of the usual ways to celebrate. Dancing ’round the Maypole may have to wait another year due to social distancing. But that doesn’t mean you and the kids can’t find ways to enjoy this springtime tradition. There’s a few activities you’re sure to enjoy that we want to share.

Our very own Zulah Talmadge, editor of The Shady Pines Gazette newspaper, is exploring ways to give new meaning to May Day this year. She talked to some moms here in Shady Pines Story Town about things families can do to mark this special day. They told her it’s all about sharing and caring. Well, those are two themes we especially like! 

“So, here’s what you need to let kids know,” says Zulah. “May marks the blooming of flowers and the arrival of a new season — which is a reason enough to be excited. Since spring is a time when the grass turns green again, the trees sprout leaves and the flowers bloom, there is color and delightful aromas all around us. Caring for nature is a wonderful lesson to share with young children.

After all this is a good time to get back to nature as much as you can. Plant some flowers in the back yard or in planters if you’re in an apartment. You can even start an herb garden in a container so you’ll have fresh ingredients when you cook your next meal. The other thing that these moms suggested is to share a dance with your children. You can do that anywhere you live.

As for the sharing part of May Day, this is where you bring a gift to a loved one, a friend or a neighbor. Maybe you want to do something special for your grandma or grandpa in a nursing home. You might want to leave a basket or card for the person who brings you your mail, or for the medical workers trying so hard to keep us all safe and heealthy. Staying with our theme, you can make a May Day basket or a card to share with them.

Part of the fun of this activity is the happy surprise you’re leaving for someone else to enjoy. It’s also a way to re-use that easter basket of yours! If you’d like to have some help in making your very own May Day gift, we’ve got some ideas for you. This is an activity you and the kids can do together.

The result will be showing that you’re sharing your lovely creation with someone and demonstrating that you care about them very much. Now, isn’t that a tradition worth adopting?  Just GO HERE TO GET SOME BASKET MAKING IDEAS.”

Happy May Day Everyone!

Please leave a comment below.

St. Patrick’s Day Traditions


Here in Shady Pines Story Town, we love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. You can read about how we celebrate by going HERE. This is a holiday known for parades, shamrocks and all things Irish. From leprechauns to the color green, find out how symbols we now associate with St. Patrick’s Day came to be, and learn about a few that are purely American invention.

The Shamrock

The shamrock, which was also called the “seamroy” by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.

Did you know? The color traditionally associated with St. Patrick was blue, not green.

Irish Music

Music is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day—and Irish culture in general. From ancient days of the Celts, music has always been an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of stories and songs. After being conquered by the English, and forbidden to speak their own language, the Irish, like other oppressed peoples, turned to music to help them remember important events and hold on to their heritage and history. As it often stirred emotion and helped to galvanize people, music was outlawed by the English. During her reign, Queen Elizabeth I even decreed that all artists and pipers were to be arrested and hanged on the

Today, traditional Irish bands like The Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem are gaining worldwide popularity. Their music is produced with instruments that have been used for centuries, including the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (a sort of elaborate bagpipe), the tin whistle (a sort of flute that is actually made of nickel-silver, brass or aluminum) and the bodhran (an ancient type of framedrum that was traditionally used in warfare rather than music).

The Snake

It has long been recounted that, during his mission in Ireland, St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop (which is now called Croagh Patrick), and with only a wooden staff by his side, banished all the snakes from Ireland.

In fact, the island nation was never home to any snakes. The “banishing of the snakes” was really a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of Christianity. Within 200 years of Patrick’s arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.

Corned Beef

Each year, thousands of Irish Americans gather with their loved ones on St. Patrick’s Day to share a “traditional” meal of corned beef and cabbage.

Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the century.

Irish immigrants living on New York City’s Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish neighbors.

The Leprechaun

The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.”

Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day To You!

Pine Cone Corner Valentine’s Day Activity Packet

Pine Cone Corner Valentine’s Day Activity Packet


Beyond hearts and flowers, here’s something that you and the kids will enjoy doing together on the day devoted to love.

You know we’re always cooking up new things for you and the kids to do, not just online, but also off line. Now we’re bringing you something we’ve never offered before.

It’s a family-friendly bundle of fun.

It’s the very first Activity Packet from Shady Pines Story Town just in time for Valentine’s Day!

This offering delivers more kindness and caring from the town where civility lives.

You’ll find a heartwarming story from Edna’s Kitchen, along with one of her favorite recipes for cheese fondue. There’s also a coloring download of her souped-up blender, Gertie, as well as other wonderful puzzle pages.

Check out this wonderful special delivery with Boomer and Halley right on the cover. You’ll love it!

Pine Cone Corner Valentine’s Day Activity Packet

Help Your Child make New Year’s Resolutions

The year is winding down and the folks in Shady Pines Story Town are looking ahead. They’re turning their attention to New Year’s resolutions. These first-of-the-year goals are fun to discuss and write down, but often hard to follow all year long.

So, how do the adults in our community guide children to make good resolutions? We turn to some parenting experts for their advice. They say it’s important to be upbeat, make it a fun activity, and try not to force ideas but let kids come up with their own. Here’s a way to start:

Lead by Example

  • If you want your family to make healthy eating a priority this year, explain what that a healthy diet means for you with examples like:

“You know how much your dad and I love pizza. This year we’re going to eat less pizza and have more fruits and vegetables instead.” “We want to have more family dinners. So, we’re going to limit the amount of fast food we eat, and instead make more meals together.”

Be Specific by Setting Goals

  • Start with some broad categories like personal, friendship, helping and school goals.

Asking questions can help you gauge which of these categories are most important to them. Some examples: “Can you think of some things you might do better or differently? Do you remember a time when you might have been nicer to someone at school? Or, treated your brother or sister better? Are there ways to share more with your friends? How about helping out more around the house?”

Attach Action to the Resolutions

Let’s say your child’s resolution is to keep his or her room clean. Have them write down six easy steps they can practice each week, like:

Week #1:  I will put my shoes in the closet at night
Week #2:  I will put my toys away after playing with them

Some other ideas:

  • I will help around the house – by doing the dishes
  • I will improve my reading – by reading 15 minutes before I go to bed
  • I will eat more healthy foods – by eating one fruit at breakfast and one vegetable at dinner

Build Upon Success

Experts agree it takes up to six weeks to create a habit so do this for a month and a half and see how things are going. You and the kids can always start adding things to build upon successes.

Here’s to a great 2019!!!

Pine Cone Corner Valentine’s Day Activity Packet

Save The Day Recipe

Can you believe that Tiny won the Turkey Trot race in Shady Pines Story Town? Wasn’t that fun?

You can understand why Edna can’t bring herself to serve turkey this Thanksgiving after this fabulous feathered friend won the hearts of all who met him. She is reaching into her box f recipes and is pulling out one that fits this occasion. You and the kids can do this one together.  Harold, Boomer and Halley will be having a non traditional meal this year!